On March 12, 2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the Russian Federation in Ukraine A.Vorobyov to hand over a note in connection with the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia dated March 11 recognizing the Declaration of Independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.
In particular, the note stressed that the Ukrainian side considers the mentioned statement of Russian Foreign Ministry to be a direct and undisguised interference of Russia with internal affairs of Ukraine, which is in odds with the fundamental principles of international law and generally recognized principles of friendly relations and cooperation among states. Statement of the MFA of Russia does not only flagrantly violate the requirements of paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the UN Charter, which provides for states not to intervene in matters which are within the domestic jurisdiction of other States, but also Articles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 11 of the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Russian Federation of 31 May 1997.
Ukrainian side strongly disagrees with the assessment of the Russian Foreign Ministry that the decision of the Crimean parliament is “completely legitimate”. A decision which is contrary to the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, Constitution of Ukraine and its national legislation, principles and norms of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, the Declaration “On the Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations of States in accordance with the UN Charter United Nations”, Final Act of the CSCE/OSCE of 1975, the provisions of other international instruments, including the statement of the President of the Security Council of 20 July 1993, which was unanimously supported by all members of the UN Security Council, including Russia cannot be completely or partially legitimate.
The Ukrainian side supports the argument by the provision of the Declaration “On the Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations of States in accordance with the UN Charter” of 1970, which stipulates that “Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples as described above and thus possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed or colour”.
In respect of Russian MFA referring to the “Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 22 July 2010 on Kosovo”, the advisory, non-binding character of the opinion of the ICJ was pointed out. Moreover, Russia herself opposed the independence of Kosovo. Thus, a joint statement of the House of the Federation Council and the State Duma on the consequences that flow from the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo (Serbia), adopted on February 18, 2008, clearly states that the right of nations to self-determination cannot justify recognition of Kosovo’s independence, and that both House of Parliament of the Russian Federation “find impossible recognizing Kosovo as a sovereign state, making Kosovo a member of the UN and other international organizations committed to the fundamental principles of international law”. In the written statement, formally submitted by the Russian Federation to ICJ in the request for Advisory Opinion on “Accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo”, it is stated that “the right to self-determination cannot be construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would lead to a partition or a partial or complete breach of territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent states”.
Therefore, the attempt of the Russian Federation to apply the arguments that it considered untenable in respect of Serbia to Ukraine’s situation in the Crimea may only be regarded as policy of double standards.
MFA of Ukraine also expressed serious doubts about the possibility of free will referendum of the region’s population of Ukraine, which in fact is being occupied by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Contemporary international law contains specific requirements for plebiscites, which include demilitarization, democratization and de-extremization of the territory, where a plebiscite will be held and with an effective control of the UN thereof. The plebiscite that will be held under a foreign occupation of the region will not be recognized by the international community, and its results will be considered void.
The assertion of the Russian Foreign Ministry that the referendum in the Crimea will take place under the supervision of the OSCE observers has been disavowed.
MFA of Ukraine once again urged the Russian side to return to the civilized framework of bilateral relations provided for by the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Russian Federation dated 31 May 1997.
Blunt ignoring and selective application of international law may have unpredictable consequences for the existing system of generally accepted rules of international cooperation.